The Stories I Tell (Part I)

John Stepper_Cover

John Stepper_Cover

One of the most fulfilling things in my life is when I hear from someone who has been working out loud and they’ve discovered a new possibility or found themselves enjoying their every day more. “This wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” they’ll say. Or, like a person who has escaped to a better place, “I could never go back.”

The working out loud stories I tell are about very different people. Different ages and experiences. Different education levels. Introverts and extroverts. What they have in common is an open, generous, connected approach to work and life.

Which of these people is most like you?

Exploring what’s out there

The simplest goal is when you want something more from work or life but you’re not sure what it is exactly. You want to take a few steps and see where they may take you.

Anita didn’t want to be visible but found that thinking about people and networks and just simple possibilities in a different way was making her “more open at and about work.”

David had shelved his dreams of authoring children’s book and wanted to breathe life back into those dreams. After five years, with help from his working out loud circle, he started writing again.

Barbara managed to connect her job with something else she was passionate about and felt “working out loud changed my life.” Later on, her contributions online at work led to a new job in a new city.

Accomplishing something specific

Some people have a clear idea of what they need to do.

Mara wanted to move back home to New Zealand. As she deepened relationships with people there, she increased her odds of finding a job. And by taking control she felt less anxious about the entire process. Today she sends me photos of the pristine beach she runs on in the morning.

Nicola, whose story I’ll write soon, is an entrepreneur looking to expand her business. Exploring ways to frame what she does as a contribution makes her view networking and business development in a much more positive light, as something she can do in an authentic way that’s more comfortable for her.

Finding a new job or career

For many people, the goal is to find a new job or to change careers entirely.

When Joyce, with decades of experience, was looking for a new challenge, she didn’t recede into the background or just rely on friends and family for access to existing jobs. Instead, she channeled her energy into purposeful discovery – learning, experimenting, meeting people, contributing. By making all of that visible using social platforms, she turned those experiences into new and more fulfilling possibilities, including teaching and forming a new company.

My own experience was similar to Joyce’s. When my area was reorganized and I was on the brink of being laid off, I was able to discover my passion and connect it with a new career all while staying in the same firm. In addition to enjoying every day more, I now have more control and more possibilities than ever.

Creating a movement

Someone I often talk about - and who merited an entire chapter in Working Out Loud - is Anne-Marie. At 24 years old, she founded Stemettes, a movement that's "showing the next generation that girls do science too." Her approach to work has made it possible for her to build an extraordinary alliance of partners, raise a significant amount of money, and help a growing number of young women. Anne-Marie isn’t lucky. She makes her own luck.

More stories

I also like to tell the story of Jordi Muñoz because it shows how even someone with seemingly few opportunities can change their odds. When Jordi was 19, he was waiting for his green card, wasn’t in college, and found out he was going to be a father. Five years later he was CEO of 3D Robotics. Working out loud isn’t just for people in big companies. It’s for anyone who thinks there could be more to work and life.

This post includes just a few of the stories I ultimately hope to share. As more people form working out loud circles, I’ll be looking to publish their stories on this blog and in a next edition of the book.

Working out loud - thinking of your goals in terms of people and contributions - is a mindset that can change your life.

What story will you write for yourself?